In 1993, Ice Cube's “It Was a Good Day” became one the anthem of the summer. That same year, though, Queen Latifah released a single from her album Black Reign that spoke to a similar tune. Produced by S.I.D. Reynolds "Just Another Day…" was told from a woman's perspective. She opens her first verse using the classic Mr. Rogers theme song, “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” even carrying the song in a similar jazzy style, as she croons about feeling good today, despite the gunshots that go off outside her doorstep.
In the song, Latifah doesn’t lament over sexual escapades as Cube did on “Good Day,” but the sentiments about life in the hood are almost identical, with Latifah musing over the everyday goings-on in Orange, New Jersey. A lot of the day’s events entailed witnessing cars getting jacked, marking her territory, and kids getting busted selling clips to undercover detectives. The most moving line in the song is when she talks about attending the wake of a seven-year-old girl who lost her life to gun violence, hoping that there’s a hood in heaven where the slain girl can continue home.
The line resonates, even in 2018, when hearing about tragic cases like Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, better known as Junior, who was fatally stabbed in the Bronx, or the 16-year-old boy in Brooklyn who was killed one day before his 16th birthday. These areas are considered some of the worst in New York City; places most people stay away from at all costs, but when you’re from these parts, you don’t see them for anything other than what they are. For the people from the hood, these experiences make them stronger, providing a perspective that makes one wise beyond their years (Latifah was only 23 at the time).
“Just Another Day…” would later be featured in the HBO documentary Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock, which was one of the most dangerous city’s in the country at the time. The song charted at No. 11 on the Billboard Rap charts and was the low-key follow up to the massive “U.N.I.T.Y,” which peaked at No. 2. With its stripped-down beat, but powerful lyrics, “Just Another Day…” is an ode to not being ashamed of where you come from, and a bittersweet reminder of what it is like growing up in the hood.